Part Two-Polishing the Big Apple and Other Matters

By W. Tracy Parnell Ó 2002



The second part of this series begins my direct examination of John Armstrong’s “Harvey and Lee” presentation. I have chosen to use Jerry Robertson’s two-volume booklet “Denial #2” for this critique for several reasons. First, it contains supporting documents that were lacking from other versions. The booklet is well organized (I compliment Mr. Robertson for adding order to this already confusing theory) and prepared with Armstrong’s approval. Finally it admittedly corrects several errors contained in previous versions. For the sake of simplicity, I have listed after each bold section heading the corresponding page number for volume one of Denial #2. Endnotes are used for other citations.



I will not try to answer every point made by Armstrong, as many of his allegations are based on eyewitness accounts (discussed in detail in part 1 of this series) and therefore cannot be proven either true or false. Throughout this document I will use “Harvey” and “Lee” (with quotes) when referring to Armstrong’s double Oswalds.


Gordon Lonsdale (p. 1)


Armstrong begins his presentation with the story of Gordon Lonsdale a spy arrested in 1961 for passing British defense secrets to the Russians. After his arrest, it was determined that Lonsdale, who held a Canadian passport, was really Konan Molody (Armstrong uses the spelling Molodi, but his source and one I found both use Molody) who was a Russian born in 1922 (my source says 1923).  Molody went to California at the age of nine where he lived with his aunt and learned the English language.  In 1954 he went to Canada where he assumed Lonsdale’s identity. He then traveled to England where he began his espionage activities. Armstrong states, “If the KGB recruited young boys, can there be any doubt that our intelligence agencies ran similar operations?”.


 Armstrong is trying to use the example of Lonsdale-Molody as powerful confirmation that the CIA and KGB ran child spy programs and that "Harvey and Lee" are an example of such a program. However, there is quite a difference between a spy assuming a dead man's identity and two boys (not identical twins but somehow similar enough to pass for the same person) being recruited from childhood to lead parallel lives. I assume that if Armstrong had been able to locate an example of child spies of this type that he would have used it for his opening instead of Molody. Was Molody in fact sent to California to become a spy or did the fact that he had spent time there and learned the language later make him a desirable KGB recruit? My source says, “Whether or not this was actually planned in the hope that he could be later used as a sleeper agent is not easily confirmed…”. [1]


Mrs. Jack Tippit (p. 1)


Armstrong uses a phone call from an unidentified woman to Mrs. Jack Tippit of Westport, Connecticut as the basis for several otherwise uncorroborated claims. The caller said she knew Oswald's father and uncle and they were Hungarian communists. Armstrong states, "If this information is correct, one of the two Oswald's lived in New York in his youth. This could explain Oswald's interest in communism (from his father and uncle), which began as a teenager and continued throughout his life." [2] Armstrong adds, "She gave two names-Louis Weinstock and Emile Kardos".[3]


A further look at the FBI document (Denial #2 Volume 2 Item 3) that details the phone call is revealing. Armstrong says that the woman caller "knew the Tippits were related to Officer JD Tippit".[4] This statement is apparently an attempt to give weight to the woman's allegations. Unfortunately, it is incorrect. The FBI document states, "Mrs. Tippit received a telephone call from unknown woman who asked if Mr. Tippit was a policeman and if he was related to the policeman Tippit who was shot in Dallas".[5]


Armstrong makes another slip when he says that the unidentified caller gave the name Louis Weinstock. The caller gave only the last name Weinstock and Armstrong has filled in the blank with a first name helpful to his theory. Louis Weinstock was, of course, the General Manager of  "The Worker", the left-wing publication that Oswald read. Weinstock had also corresponded with Oswald on at least one occasion to thank him for his offer to make posters for the publication. To be fair, the caller did say "Weinstock, the editor of Woman's World". If the caller said "The Worker" and the Mr. And Mrs. Tippit heard it as "Woman's World" then Armstrong is justified in adding "Louis" to "Weinstock". But Armstrong leaves the reader with the impression that the caller said "Louis Weinstock" which isn't the case.


 The FBI document adds, "The woman then began speaking indistinctly, disjointedly and nervously".[6] The woman's nervousness could have resulted from the fact that she was making a crank call. Another possibility is that if the caller was referring to Louis Weinstock the call was an effort to embarrass him by associating him with Oswald.


Mental Tests (p. 2)


Page two of the book includes the assertions of Louise Robertson who was a housekeeper for Marguerite in the summer of 1953. Mrs. Robertson remembered that Marguerite had said that she brought Lee to New York to have mental tests at Jacobi Hospital. Armstrong then states, "Marguerite was asked about this by Warren Commission attorney Rankin, but she avoided his question".[7] Again, Armstrong has made an incorrect statement. The pertinent passage from the Warren Volumes shows that after Rankin asked his question Marguerite answered, "No sir, never".[8] She did not avoid the question but instead answered it directly and then went on to defend her son and his mental state.


I am not sure what Armstrong's intent was when he included this issue, but let me offer these thoughts. Let's assume for a moment that Robertson was correct [*] and Marguerite did make this statement. Perhaps it is an indication that Marguerite was becoming increasingly aware of Lee's problems and had decided to do something about it. Robertson also says in her FBI statement that Marguerite related an incident in which Lee ran away from home and was returned by the police. Obviously If this were true Marguerite must have been very concerned about his behavior especially when taken in the context of his other troubles in New York (truancy, knife incident, etc.) I don't know of any police report being turned up in regard to this matter or if anyone has looked for one. But if Robertson's statement is to be accepted as Armstrong has done, then it is a possibility that Marguerite wanted to have Lee tested at Jacobi but for whatever reason did not follow through. If she was aware of Lee's problems, it certainly does nothing to hurt the Warren Commission view of a disturbed lone gunman who had an abnormal childhood. And if one rejects any part of Robertson's statement then it follows that the entire statement should be disregarded.



New York School Records and Related Matters (p. 2-3)


Armstrong next explores the issue of Oswald's New York school records. He says, "During the year and a half Lee Oswald resided in New York, there are few records of his activities." [9] He goes on to say, "The Warren Commission records tell us Oswald first entered Trinity Evangelical School in the Bronx in September, 1952 many miles from his residence in Manhattan. When asked for copies of Oswald's school records, the Trinity School allegedly told the FBI that they did not maintain records until 1957. This is nonsense. Who ever heard of a school that did not maintain records? If the school did not maintain records, how were the dates of his attendance at Trinity obtained? How did the FBI know he even attended Trinity? And why would 12 year-old Oswald attend junior high in the Bronx instead of Manhattan?" [10]


Armstrong is correct that it would be odd for a school to not keep records and in fact somebody did provide at least partial records. They are available in CE 1384 of the Warren Commission Exhibits and Armstrong himself alludes to them in the Appendix of Denial #2, Vol. 1 on page 2. The principal of the school in 1963, R.H. Showers, also provided the FBI with the name of Oswald's teacher and school principal at the time he attended. [11]


Lee's mother, Marguerite, appeared before the Warren Commission and her testimony resolves the remaining issues:


" I immediately enrolled Lee in a Lutheran school, because Lee was not confirmed--he was baptized in the Lutheran faith, but because of moving around--I had married Mr. Ekdahl in this period and so on, Lee was not confirmed. I enrolled him in the Lutheran school which took him approximately an hour or longer by subway to get there. It was quite a distance.  That is when we first arrived in New York. I believe that Lee was in that school a very short time, 2 or 3 weeks, because at this time I was living in my daughter-in- law's home and son." [12]


We can see from Marguerite's testimony that it was her idea to enroll Lee in the Trinity School for religious reasons even though it was a long commute for Lee by subway thereby solving one mystery. As for the dates of attendance at Trinity, The Warren Commission records the date of Oswald's enrollment as September 8 to 26, which jibes nicely with Marguerite's recollection of 2 to 3 weeks. Armstrong tries to use Oswald brother John Pic's testimony to muddy the waters even further by saying "Pic was certain Lee attended school two blocks from his Manhattan apartment". [13] But what would be more credible in this instance, the memory of his half-brother from 11 years earlier or the testimony of the boy's own mother (who by Pic's admission enrolled him at the school) and whose recollections are supported by the Warren Commission investigation?


Similarly, when Armstrong quotes Dr. Milton Kurian as remembering that Oswald was "a little fellow…perhaps 4' 6" tall", [14] the reader must keep in mind the 40 plus years that have elapsed between the time Kurian examined Oswald and Armstrong interviewed him. It is also worthwhile to remember the Warren Commission testimony of another doctor who examined Oswald, Renatus Hartogs. Dr. Hartogs was convinced that his memory of the event was accurate. However, he greatly overstated his 1953 diagnosis of Oswald until Warren Commission Attorney Wesley Liebeler showed him his own report. If Hartogs could be mistaken 11 years after the fact Kurian's undocumented observations nearly 45 years later should be taken with a grain of salt.


Probation Officer John Carro's interview of Marguerite Oswald is another area of the record that is singled out by Armstrong. He points out several "errors" made by Marguerite in the interview most of which are not troubling and could be attributed to miscommunication. However, two of these assertions demand closer scrutiny. Armstrong states, "Marguerite told Carro she was the youngest of six children, yet there were 5 children in the Claverie family". [15] Armstrong apparently used census reports as the basis for this statement. While he is to be commended for his attempt at obtaining his own sources of information, the Warren Commission testimony of Lillian Murret is the "best evidence" in this instance. She gave the names of the six Claverie children from oldest to youngest: Charles, Lillian, John, Pearl, Marguerite, and Aminthe.[16] There is no reason to believe that Lillian wouldn't know how many brothers and sisters she had and in fact she describes most of them in some detail. Also, when Armstrong says, "She gave her sister's (Lillian's) name as Lillian Sigouerette" [17], there is no citation and the statement appears nowhere in Carro's report (Carro Exhibit 1) of the interview, the presumed source.


In the next part of my series I will look at the allegations of Oswald in Stanley, North Dakota and "new" evidence that shows how this factoid became accepted as truth in the JFK research community.

[*] Abraham Jocobi Hospital did not open until 1955. Robertson's statement was made ten years after Marguerite's alleged comment and she could have been mistaken about the name of the hospital. It is possible that the Hospital was to have opened earlier and was delayed-I have not looked into this matter. It is of course, also possible that Robertson is mistaken about the entire incident or is confusing it with information about mental tests Lee did take at Youth House.


[1] Richard Deacon, Spyclopedia (William Marrow & Co., 1987), pp. 337-39.

[2] Jerry Robertson, Denial #2: The John Armstrong Research Volume One (self-published), p. 1.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Robertson, Denial #2: The John Armstrong Research Volume Two (self-published), Item 3A.

[6] Ibid., Item 3B.

[7] Denial #2 Vol. 1, p. 2.

[8] Denial #2 Vol. 2, Item 5 (WC Vol. I, p. 230).

[9] Denial #2 Vol. 1, p. 2.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Denial #2 Vol. 2, Item 7.

[12] Testimony of Marguerite Oswald. WC Vol. I, p. 226.

[13] Denial #2 Vol. 1, p. 2.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., p. 3.

[16] Testimony of Lillian Murret. WC Vol. VIII, p. 96.

[17] Denial #2 Vol. 1, p. 3.

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